Stone Is A Devil’s Bowl Modified King
WEST HAVEN, Vt. – Veteran stock car driver Todd Stone held off young up-and-comer Jessey Mueller to win Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s most important open-wheel Modified event on Friday, taking the second annual Carrara Masonry & Concrete C.J. Richards Memorial 67.
The win highlighted a night full of close finishes, with Brandon Atkins, Chris Bergeron, Lacey Hanson, and Karen Bushey also taking victories at the event honoring the track’s late founder.
The outcome of the race – which was the second round of the five-race Northern Modified Challenge Series – was in question throughout the entire 67-lap distance until Stone crossed the finish line as the winner. Veteran Leon Gonyo started on the front row by virtue of a random draw, and led the opening seven laps. Visiting short track standout “Liquid” Loud Cicconi, driving Stone’s team car, took command on lap eight and diced with Gonyo for the next 14 laps before Stone entered the picture.
Stone took the lead from Cicconi at lap 31 and led his teammate in an entertaining duel, but Cicconi’s engine failed, forcing him out of the race at lap 39 while running second. The resulting restart allowed 18 year-old Mueller to draw even with Stone, and the pair raced in lockstep for the final 27 laps. Both were forced to make daring maneuvers through lapped traffic with five laps to go, nearly causing them to crash, but Stone held on to beat Mueller by a car length to win. The victory was his fourth-straight and seventh of the season in the Bond Auto Parts Modified division at Devil’s Bowl.
“It means so much to win this race,” Stone said in victory lane. “C.J. Richards is the reason we’re all here at Devil’s Bowl. I cut my racing teeth here a long time ago and I considered C.J. a friend and a mentor as much as a race promoter.”
Gonyo finished third after a see-saw battle with Hunter Bates. Vince Quenneville Jr. recovered from a mid-race pit stop to finish in fifth place. Ron Proctor, Travis Bruno, Joe Williams, rookie Jamie LaFountain, and Dave Snow completed the unofficial top 10.
Rookie Brandon Atkins and veteran Chris Bergeron split twin 20-lap features in the Late Model division. Atkins, 16, posted his career-first victory in impressive fashion in the opening race, outrunning Robert Bryant Jr. and Jim “Boomer” Morris for the win. Bergeron came from 13th starting position to win a wild second race that featured a multi-car pileup on the frontstretch. Bryant, who earlier made a three-wide pass to move from fourth place into the lead, finished second by a fender. Rookie Josh Masterson finished third.
Rookie Lacey Hanson made history by becoming the first woman to win a main event in a weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, as she held off a persistent challenge from Chris LaVair to score in the 15-lap Central Vermont Motorcycles Mini Stock feature. Jake Noble – Hanson’s teammate – finished third to protect his point lead in the division.
Karen Bushey matched Hanson’s historic accomplishment when she became the first woman to win in the Daredevil “community” division – a series of track-owned cars driven by race fans drawn at random. Bushey, the mother of drivers Craig and Brad Bushey, beat Josiah Simons and Billy Jones for the win.